What sparked the second Sino-Japanese war

China's role in World War II

From the point of view of many Chinese, the Second World War began on July 7, 1937. On that day, Japanese troops took control of the Marco Polo Bridge near Beijing after a violent firefight with Chinese defenders. This battle, in which Chinese troops for the first time offered military resistance to the Japanese, who had long marched into China, marked, according to the Chinese interpretation, the actual beginning of the Second World War. They also call it the "War of the International Alliance against the fascism of the Axis powers Germany-Italy-Japan". For the Chinese, the Pacific War - according to the Western definition that between Japan and the USA - is a logical consequence of the Sino-Japanese war.

The view that the Second World War actually began in China and ended there, i.e. that it lasted eight instead of six years, finds supporters here and there in the West too. Above all, your opponents criticize the fact that this interpretation minimizes Germany's guilt for the Second World War.

Pay for the fight

The fact that China, as Mao Zedong once stated, as one of the largest countries within the anti-fascism alliance, fought through to the end of the war, has significantly strengthened its position within the international community. China's position as one of the founding countries of the UN and as a member of the Permanent Security Council with the right to veto are important indicators of this.

Without the capitulation of Hitler Germany on May 8, 1945, the Pacific War - thus the Second World War - in Asia would certainly have been extended by more than four months, according to a common thesis in the West. Because only the defeat of the German armed forces enabled the USA to fight the Japanese in a concentrated manner. The same goes for the Soviet Red Army. Without the fall of Berlin in May, the Soviet Union's declaration of war against Japan in August 1945 would have been impossible.

More than 20 million Chinese dead

For a long time, Chinese experts have complained about Western history books, in which, in their opinion, the important role of China in World War II was either neglected or neglected. Hu Dekun, head of the Chinese Research Association for World War II, said this in an interview with "Sohu", one of the largest Internet portals in China, in July 2004. For Professor Hu, China was one of the four leading powers against fascism. According to his interpretation, the Second World War first broke out in China and lasted the longest there. He believes that Western historians either did not describe China at all or, as is so often the case, only "briefly" described China as one of the main battlefields in World War II. He describes that as unfair.

According to widespread representation in China, there were 20 to 25 million deaths on their own side during World War II. In the west, the number is usually given as ten million. In addition, 1.3 million Japanese soldiers died on Chinese soil. Because of the stubborn resistance, according to the further, also official, argument, Japan had to station most of its army in China. China has prevented Japan from using further armed forces against the United States.

Against the official reading

For some time now, there have also been views in China that differ widely from the official version of China's role in World War II. In a post published on October 20, 2004 on the military forum of the Internet operator "china.com", it was claimed, for example, that firstly, China could not have defeated the Japanese aggressor on its own and, secondly, that China was not the main battlefield against Japan. The author relied on Japanese sources. According to this, 400,000 Japanese soldiers were killed in China, that is 22 percent of all deaths that the Japanese army suffered in World War II; but the United States killed far more Japanese soldiers, namely 1,200,000 (64 percent).

Furthermore, attention is drawn to the fact that without the USA the strong Japanese naval forces could never have been put in their place by the Chinese or other countries. The navy was the real pillar of Japan, which sees itself as the land of the sea. For the author, the conclusion to be drawn is that the USA is the real conqueror of totalitarian Japan.

China in civil war

After the Japanese were driven out, China quickly sank into the quagmire of civil war. For some western observers, this was also due to a wrong policy by the USA in China. Dieter Kuhn, author of several publications on China, points out in his most recent book “The Second World War in China” that at the end of the Pacific War the US government misjudged the balance of power in China and thus pursued a momentous China policy have. According to him, Jiang Kaischek negotiated from a position of supposed strength at the meeting with Mao Zedong in Chongqing on August 28, 1945, which was decisive for China's fate, because he believed that he was sure of the support of the Americans. The negotiations failed and four years of civil war followed, with hundreds of thousands more dead.

On August 15, 2004, a memorial was unveiled in Hutou District, Hulin City, northeast China. It was supposed to be the memorial of the last battlefield in World War II. According to the state news agency Xinhua, Hutou was the place where a Japanese unit fought until August 26, despite the imperial declaration of surrender on August 15, when it was overpowered by the Soviet army. So while in the West there is sometimes a discussion about whether the Second World War began in the Polish city of Wielun and not on the Danzig Westerplatte, the Chinese at least have no doubt where this war ended: in China.